Project: Community engagement
I have a BA (hons) in Social Science/international relations (Manchester Metropolitan University); MA (econs) in Poverty, Conflict, and post –Conflict Reconstruction (the University of Manchester); and a post graduate diploma in Local Government Management (University of Warwick).
I joined npdg for a number of reasons. I wanted to gain knowledge and experience of local government; I saw it as an opportunity to move into more general and management-based employment; and I wanted to learn about contemporary management theory and best practice. There was also the kudos of getting a place on a unique and highly competitive graduate scheme.
It was difficult moving from the graduate programme to doing ‘real’ work, as you might expect when you quickly rise from an entry-level job to the role of a senior principal officer. Within the first two weeks of being in post, I had to organise an away day for the whole partnership, some 250 members. On a day to day level, I was surprised at the importance placed on ‘keeping up appearances’…I thought things would be a bit more relaxed, especially as regards how you dress.
In the three years since graduating, I’ve worked for Salford Council as a Community Cohesion Officer; for Manchester Primary Care Trust as a partnership worker; and for Team Hackney as a Partnership Adviser – my present role. This is where I experienced my best moment yet. It was the day I found out that Team Hackney had decided to commission a £750,000 grants programme that I’d helped design.
My aim now is to become an assistant director or head of service within a community or customer services directorate.
To succeed in this sector I’d say you need a mix of technical/specialised knowledge as a base, plus qualities such as flexibility, a sense of humour and networking skills. You also need a desire to do something that’s meaningful. I mean, in my job I’m making a positive difference to people’s lives. I can influence lasting changes around major issues such as tackling gun and gang crime, infant mortality and community sector funding.
I don’t want to seem arrogant, but when I look around at friends and peers in the private sector, I know they’ll never come close to making that kind of difference. And while they still tar with local government people with the same ‘pen pusher’ brush as civil servants, they get genuinely excited when I tell them about some of the things I’m doing.